The Western Gate Roots and Wings Foundation’s (“Roots and Wings”) purpose is twofold: our primary mission is to provide guidance and adequate preparation to youth and veterans for closures and openings at each stage of life: childhood to adolescence, adolescence to adult, adult to elder, elder to ancestor.
Our corollary purpose is to provide Rites of Passage that initiate youth and veterans to be responsible and purposeful adults, thereby eradicating the levels of violence, suicide, gangs, and drug use among the youth and veterans through a cultivation of a deeper understanding and connection to nature and Elder Wisdom.
life integration workshops for veterans
Veterans who return from war most often suffer from severe trauma, resulting in high rates of suicide, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, violence, among other problems. The lack of support veterans face during service and upon their return home can be addressed with guided Rites of Passage where veterans are supported by nature, teachers, elders, and fellow veterans. In addition, because of similar initiation experiences felt by youth, where youth have lacked support in initiating through stages in their lives, workshops dedicated to addressing the needs of both youth and veterans provide for a synergistic healing and transformation for both groups.
During these workshops, veterans and youth will attend nature retreats where they can gather to recognize and validate one another’s experience through the exchange of stories, ceremonies and rituals, and cultivation of sanctuary. Through these retreats, youth and veterans will have the opportunity to honor the lives that have been lost by war and violence, and provide a healing place for those who have suffered wounds from their experiences.
Using the existing Roots and Wings network of teachers and mentors to provide training, experiential learning, and certification for new individuals interested in mentoring grounded in traditional indigenous methods. Roots and Wings plans on achieving this through a multi-tiered framework, using traditional forms of mentorship as well as arts based mentorship, such as creative writing, drumming, dance, story telling, poetry slams; inner work mentorship; and network mentorship (mentoring between youth and veterans.)
By establishing a group of teachers trained in this work, Roots and Wings will work with schools and correctional facilities to provide experiential learning and experiences for youth to help them transition through every stage of their lives, to integrate any trauma that they have undergone, and expose them to a different way of knowing and understanding themselves. As a result, youth entering into the program will experience lower rates of recidivism in correctional facilities, higher rates of graduation and success in education and activities that express their true selves, and a strong grasp of themselves as individuals.
community based partnerships
The success of Roots and Wings is determined in part by its partnerships with existing community based organizations committed to the same or similar goals of providing educational, mentorship, and support services to youth and veterans. By engaging this community, Roots and Wings generates active participation from city and state officials, community members, agencies, nonprofit organizations, faith based organizations, service providers and businesses to support and advocate for future Rites of Passage for youth and veteran related projects.
The Roots and Wings plans to continually increase its membership within its network as well as its efforts within the LA County and beyond to identify additional collaborative partners to successfully advocate for needed resources for youth and veterans. Throughout the year, Roots and Wings has and continues to conduct meetings with community members, nonprofit organizations, businesses, service providers, and organizations; visit and network with various organizations and agencies; and plans to maintain its website to disseminate information about the goals of Roots and Wings.
In addition, Roots and Wings plans to provide tools to educate and train the community about Rites and Passage and initiation ceremonies to assist the healing and healthy development of youth and veterans. This will include meeting annually with city and state officials, the nonprofit organizations and agencies, correctional facilities and law enforcement officials, and the County of Governments to advocate for and educate individuals about Roots and Wings and its work.
Collaborating with existing partnerships, including the YMCA and Canyon Creek Youth Camp, Hummingbird Retreat Center, among others, Roots and Wings will provide a space for a retreat dedicated to youth. In addition, we plan to cultivate and identify teachers and mentors in the Roots and Wings network that will hold a space for youth from both inner city schools and correctional facilities and provide programming consisting of activities aimed at facilitating the youth’s development into whole human beings.
Roots and Wings provides a unique set of educational programming that draws from Native American rituals, indigenous ceremonies, and Elder Wisdom that promotes a reliable process for healing and support for youth struggling with gangs, violence, imprisonment, and drugs.